This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (www.usbig.net),
which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United
States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level
income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list
please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
15. Upcoming events
16. New links
The deadline for proposals for the Tenth Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee (NA-BIG) Conference is coming up on October 31, 2010. The NA-BIG Conference: Models for Social Transformation will be held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Eastern Economic Association (EEA) at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers for February 25-27, 2011.
The NA-BIG Conference began in 2002 as the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network Conference. It expanded in 2010 when the U.S. and Canadian Basic Income Networks decided to hold joint conferences on alternating years in each country. USBIG and BI/RG Canada remain separate networks, which separate newsletters, websites, membership, and events, but we come together yearly for this event.
This year’s conference will include in a plenary dialogue on “left and right views of the basic income guarantee,” featuring Stanley Aronowitz, of the City University of New York, author of The Jobless Future; and Charles Murray, of the American Enterprise Institute, author of In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. Other speakers confirmed so far include Guy Standing, of the University of Bath, author of Beyond the New Paternalism and Alfredo L. De Romana, of the University of Paris I (the Sorbonne), author of Sharing Nature: Noncommodity Goods, Optimal Reallocation of Endowments, and the Redefinition of Economic Methodology.
Scholars, activists, and others are invited to make presentations, and organize panel discussions on BIG or topics related to poverty and the distribution of property. All points of view are welcome. Proposals from any discipline are welcomed. Anyone interested in making a presentation or organizing a panel should submit a proposal to the chair of the organizing committee: Karl Widerquist: Karl@Widerquist.com.
Please include the following information with your proposal:
1. Name (of all participants)
4. City, State/Province, Zip Code/Postal Code, and Country
5. Telephone, FAX
6. Email Address
7. Paper or Presentation Title
8. Abstract (short summary) of 50-150 words
Anyone who attends the NA-BIG conference is welcome to attend any of the EEA’s sessions. Everyone who attends and/or presents at the NA-BIG must register with EEA. USBIG participants, who are not economists, can register for $75, slightly more than half the regular price of $135. NA-BIG who are economists should become full members and pay the full price. The EEA has set up a special online payment system.
For economists: http://eeaorg.myshopify.com/products/usbig-registration-academic
For non-economists: http://eeaorg.myshopify.com/products/usbig-registration-non-academic
For more info about the EEA conference go to: www.ramapo.edu/, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the NA-BIG Conference go to www.usbig.net. For questions or to send a proposal, contact Karl Widerquist at email@example.com.
The political climate in the United States has gotten increasingly unfriendly toward the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). Since 1990s, Democrats and Republicans have agreed that any politically viable approach to poverty must involve forcing the poor to work. But it is not only cash assistance to the poor that is nonviable in the current political climate. It is not only progressive social policy. Left or right, it seems to be that the government lacks the ability to employ any ambitious strategy.
America was once a very ambitious country: the New Deal of the 1930s, the G. I. Bill of the 1940s, the interstate highway system of the 1950s, the space program and the Great Society of 1960s were all hugely ambitious goals pursued with ambitious strategies. More than a century ago, when an earthquake hit San Francisco or a fire hit Chicago, we rebuilt those cities better than ever within a couple years. Today, five years after the engineering failure that caused the flood in New Orleans, large parts of the city lie vacant while the government struggles to get the levees back only to where they were before they failed.
It would be wrong to say that the U.S. government has not taken on any ambitious goals in the last 30 years. It has ambitiously pursued tax cuts for the most privileged Americans, but by doing so it has hampered its ability to ambitiously pursue most other goals it has taken on. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. government took on the incredibly ambitious goals of invading and occupying two foreign nations. But the government has pursued those goals largely with the strategies of long-range missiles in the air and bribes for warlords on the ground, rather than committing resources to stabilize and rebuild those countries. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. government has taken on the ambitious goal of establishing universal healthcare coverage, but it plans to do so by mandating that individuals buy insurance, often from for-profit companies. Whether these goals are good or bad, the ambitiousness of the strategy does not match the ambitiousness of the goal. Meanwhile, we don’t even have the ambition to properly maintain the public transportation systems, highways, and other infrastructure left to us by earlier generations.
And in this climate, BIG supporters want to talk about this hugely ambitious idea to eliminate poverty with an unconditional payment to all citizens. How can this be worth talking about here and now?
One important reason to keep pushing for a big ambitious change is that we must not mistake a current political mood for the permanent political reality. The political mood changes for the better and for the worse, and it can change abruptly and unexpectedly. In the 1850s, no one, not even Abraham Lincoln himself, had a good reason to believe that the United States was within 10 years of outlawing slavery. In the 1920s, no one, not even Franklin Roosevelt himself, had a good reason to believe that the United States was within 10 years of introducing old age pensions, unemployment insurance, a national minimum wage, and so on.
The political mood is only a mood. It can change abruptly because most people do not hold firm convictions about politics. True believers on all sides of any political issue might dominate the debate, but most people’s political positions are tentative and subject to change. I cannot predict when and how the political mood will change, but I know that a major change takes people pressing for it, and it takes people being ready with well thought-out new ideas to take us in another direction. We need to talk about BIG now if we want to make it viable later.
The outpouring of enthusiasm for the vague ideas of “change” and “hope” in the 2008 election indicates that the appeal of the ambitionless philosophy that has been dominant for the last 30-years is declining. The most active resistance to the Democrats over the last two years has been made out of the minority who voted against them to begin with. But a significant part of the frustration that might swing the upcoming election is motivated not by some belief that the Democrats have gone too far but by the belief that they have not done enough. It is a sign of continued frustration at the bipartisan lack of ambition that continues to handicap the U.S. government.
I wish I could say with assurance that we are on the verge of a major shift in political mood in the direction of BIG. I cannot say that. I cannot see the future, and neither can those people who confidently pretend they can. But I can point to indicators that things are moving in the direction of BIG and small things we can do here and now to push things in that direction.
As I see it, there are four parts to the BIG model: (1) it’s in-cash; (2) it’s enough to meet a person’s needs; (3) it’s universal; and (4) it is understood as a human right or a right of citizenship. Anything that establishes even one element of this model moves in the direction of BIG.
Looked at in this way, the United States is not as far away from the BIG model as it might appear. Some of the most successful and popular elements in U.S. social policy are cash-based: refundable tax credits; unemployment insurance, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and so on. The Food Stamp program functions almost like a cash grant (although with a paternalistic twist), and it is clearly motivated by the idea that everyone ought to have access to food. Social Security—as imperfectly as it works—is clearly motivated by the belief that all people ought to have a financially secure retirement. Despite all the shortcomings of the health care reform law, it helps to establish the idea that all people should have access to health care.
The public school system is an enormous in-kind universal benefit that is not even limited to citizens. Although the system has great inequities, the ideal of universal education is strong. A fully market-based educational system would offer no more than the faith that all parents will somehow find a way to purchase adequate education for their children. It’s not such a big change in mindset to go from the realization that we can’t assume every parent can provide an adequate education for their children, to the question of what makes us so confidently assume every parent can provide adequate food, shelter, and clothing for their children.
Looking beyond U.S. federal government policies, there is an increasing trend worldwide toward the use of in-cash benefits. Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program, Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, and South Africa’s pension system are just a few examples of how well cash grants can work and how popular they can be. All of this experience provides lessons for U.S. federal policies big and small.
There is nothing good about the current recession. But sometimes good things arise out of bad. This recession has reminded many Americans that they are not so different from people in need. Unemployment did not rise from 3 to 10 percent because people suddenly became lazy; the foreclosure epidemic was not caused by a sudden increase in the number of deadbeats. The government has put most of its effort into bailing out the economy from the top down, but there is growing belief among the American public that we should be aiming our policy from the bottom up instead.
What can we do? Two things: we can be on the side of big ambitious change and small incremental changes in the right direction. The world has big problems; we can be on the side of the ambitious strategy necessary to build a better world in the face of those problems. At the same time, there are small policy issues and many, many opportunities to nudge policy in the direction of a universalistic, rights-based, or cash-based strategies to meet human needs. Efforts to expand refundable tax credits and the cap & dividend approach to global warming are two small steps in that direction that are under serious consideration right now.
-Karl Widerquist, Portland, Oregon; October 2010
The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) held its thirteenth biennial congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 30 through July 2, 2010. USBIG has been a national affiliate of BIEN since 2006. Philippe Van Parijs, director of the Hoover Chair of economic and social ethics at the Catholic University of Louvain and Chair of BIEN’s International Advisory Board, wrote the following account of the Congress for the BIEN NewsFlash (reprinted in its entirety):
There are at least three reasons why holding a BIEN congress in Brazil made a lot of sense. Firstly, Brazil's cash transfer system is one of the most comprehensive in the so-called developing world and is sometimes presented as one of the closest real-life approximations to a genuine basic income. Secondly, Brazil adopted, in January 2004, a law that explicitly asserts as an objective the introduction of an unconditional and individual basic income for all its permanent residents. This is something no other country ever did. And thirdly, it is on the suggestion and insistence of Senator Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy that BIEN was turned, in September 2004, from the Basic Income European Network into the Basic Income Earth Network. Eduardo Suplicy was the first senator for Lula's PT and has been representing the state of São Paulo in the Brazilian Senate for nearly 20 years.
So, the choice of São Paulo for this 13th Congress was more than justified, and it proved excellent. Thanks to the hard and intelligent work of an energetic organizing team led by Lena Lavinas, Fabio Waltenberg and Celia Kerstenetsky, the congress was yet another fantastic occasion for sharing information, exchanging arguments, taking new initiatives and rekindling fraternal contacts. The organization was even so good that the congress was able to smoothly accommodate the plenary viewing of the Brazil-Holland World Cup football match and happily get back to full swing straight away despite Brazil's painful defeat.
The congress took place in the Faculty of Economics of the University of São Paulo on 1 and 2 July 2010 and was preceded by a Brazilian pre-congress day on 30 June. Over the three days, the meeting attracted over 500 participants from over 30 countries and hosted close to 200 presentations that can still be downloaded from the congress site (www.bien2010brasil.com). This meant many parallel sessions that allowed for some in-depth discussion, combined with a number of plenary sessions. The closing one, chaired by Senator Suplicy, provided an opportunity to look back and think ahead with four of those who founded BIEN in Louvain-la-Neuve in 1986 (Clause Offe, Guy Standing, Robert van der Veen, Philippe Van Parijs). On afternoon preceding the congress, BIEN's Executive Committee was received at length by President Lula, who explained how BIEN's objectives were already partly met by the programmes that exist in Brazil.
Indeed, several sessions of the congress, including a plenary addressed by the director of the programme, Lucia Modesto, were devoted to the achievements of the Bolsa Familia and to how the challenges it faces may pave the way to a basic citizen's income. Means-tested programmes such as the Bolsa Familia unavoidably generate a major problem of fair implementation in the context of a largely informal economy. As the programme matures, there will be more and more people who will rightly say: "this is unfair, my neighbour is earning more than me and is receiving a Bolsa Famila whereas I am not".
Brazilian scholars who study the operation of the scheme do observe that there are comparatively very few households removed from the programme because their assessed income exceeds the (low) threshold, and they acknowledge that many more would need to be removed if the means test were rigorously implemented. But it would be very harsh, expensive, conflict-ridden and unpopular to monitor closely families that are still very poor and punish them with the withdrawal of the Bolsa Familia as soon as their monthly earnings are suspected of exceeding the threshold of 140 reals per person (less than 80 dollars). So far, the risk of clientelism and straight corruption intrinsic in such a system has not eroded its popularity. The public discussion about the Bolsa Familia has been focusing mostly on a different issue, namely whether one should strengthen or weaken the condition of school attendance currently imposed on households with children in the appropriate range: 85% of the classes for children between 6 and 15, 75% for adolescents. But in case the legitimacy of the whole scheme were to be threatened by the unsustainability of the means test, Senator Suplicy and other Brazilian basic income supporters are ready with a structural solution: just do what the 2004 law promises to do, i.e. get rid of hundreds of thousands cases of unfairness in one go by simply extending the benefit to all.
The congress was, as usual, an opportunity to hear about what is happening in very different places in the world. For example, it provided a nice opportunity to compare the local basic income experiments currently conducted in Namibia and in Brazil or soon to be started in India. After the end of the conference, two groups of participants even went to visit the two Brazilian experiments currently underway (in São Antonio do Piñal and Quatinga Velho). It is important to keep the order of magnitude of these experiments firmly in mind. In São Antonio do Piñal, for example, an attractive municipality located in a hilly part of São Paulo state and supporting itself largely from tourism, we visited the room in which the municipal council made an unprecedented decision. It decided to allocate 6% of all municipal revenues collected from local taxes (as opposed to state or federal grants) to the funding of a basic income for all inhabitants. However the total of these local taxes amount to 1.240.000 reals per year. 6% of this amount divided by the 7000 inhabitants gives each of them less than one real per month (about half a dollar). This is a neat symbolic gesture, that its initiators try to supplement in various ingenious ways, but so far it does not weigh much next to the colossal bolsa familia programme, which provides an average per-family monthly benefit of about 50 dollars (95 reals) to over 12.5 million Brazilian families.
This is to be compared with what many of us saw as the most surprising news of the whole congress. It came from Iran. In January 2010, the Iranian parliament approved by a narrow majority the so-called "targeted subsidy law", which combines two measures. Firstly, it scraps a large implicit subsidy to oil consumption by both Iranian households and firms. It does so by bringing the comparatively very low domestic price of oil in line with the international price. Secondly, it compensates the impact of the general price increase on the standard of living of the population by introducing a monthly uniform cash subsidy for over 70 million Iranian citizens to be paid to the heads of households. The amount is expected to reach initially about 20 dollars per person per month and to gradually rise to 60 dollars. The rich, who consume directly and indirectly more oil than average will not be fully compensated for the price increase, but the poor will automatically be more than compensated. The law, which is due to come into effect on September 21, is therefore expected both to foster a more efficient use of scarce natural resources and to reduce the level of social inequality. For more information, see the section “national debates” below (or Hamid Tabatabai, firstname.lastname@example.org, "The ‘Basic Income’ Road to Reforming Iran’s Subsidy System", slides downloadable from the website of the congress, updated paper forthcoming in Basic Income Studies). If this scheme is actually introduced and expanded as planned in Iran, it promises to be a very interesting initiative to study, and it may inspire other countries. Wherever one is seeking a "sustainable new deal" that combines ecological and social concerns, making resource consumption far more expensive and distributing the large revenues from the price increase equally to all is an obvious option to consider.
In many places, this is a far more realistic option than an Alaska-type permanent fund programme (discussed at the congress by two of its best specialists, Scott Goldsmith and Karl Widerquist). This programme distributes dividends to all Alaskan residents — in 2009, somewhat above 100 dollars per person and per month. As income per capita is about 13 times higher in Alaska than it is in Iran, this dividend obviously makes far less of a difference to the local income distribution than the Iranian scheme will, despite the latter being lower (per capita) in dollar equivalents. But the main difference is that the Alaska scheme is funded out of the interest collected from investments made worldwide with revenues generated by the production of oil at some point in the past, whereas the Iranian scheme should be understood to be funded out of a tax on the current consumption of oil. The Alaska-type scheme is therefore restricted to resource-rich (sub-) countries that manage at some point to exercise sufficient political self-restraint to create and develop a substantial fund. The Iranian-type scheme, by contrast, is available to any country that wants to price the consumption of oil in an ecologically responsible way and to buffer the effect on people's standard of living in a socially responsible way. For this road to basic income to be a real option there is no need to first accumulate a large fund, nor indeed to be an oil-producing or resource-rich country. Yet, there are also disadvantages. In the long run, one can expect the return on the Alaskan fund to keep fluctuating quite wildly but not to converge to zero. Our consumption of oil, by contrast, will not continue forever.
This surprising Iranian story is only one of the many that were discovered and discussed at the São Paulo congress. It neatly illustrates the role a network such as BIEN can play to spread useful information, to make it intelligible, to broaden our imagination, to boost our confidence and to empower our struggle for greater justice all over the world.
-Philippe Van Parijs, Chair of BIEN’s International Advisory Board
Alaskan Governor, Sean Parnell, announced in September that the 2010 Permanent Fund Dividend (the only existing basic income in the world today) is $1,281 per person, which amounts to $2,562 for a family of two and $5,405 for a family of five. This figure is down slightly from last year’s $1305 figure, and it is about average for recent years.
The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) began distributing the dividend on October 7 to about 640,000 Alaskans. Most Alaskans will receive it right away by direct deposit. Others will receive it within a month.
As the first checks were going out, the APFC held its annual meeting in Fairbanks. Mike Burns, CEO of the APFC, announced at the meeting that the total value of the fund’s assets has now rebounded to $36 billion. According to the APFC’s website at the time of this writing the current value of the fund is more than $36.8 billion. The fund is still not quite back to $40 billion, where it was before the stock market downturn of 2008, but it is well above the low of $26 billion it reached in early 2009. The fund is still heavily invested in stocks, worrying some observers that it is vulnerable to another stock market downturn, but the managers can say that the fund has successfully weathered the financial crisis.
Additional worries about the future of the fund are fueled by declining oil production in Alaska. Alaskan oil production has already peaked, and it is expected to continue to decline gradually every year. This decline has so far been more than offset by the rising price of oil, so that state oil revenue continues to rise even as oil production falls. But this offset cannot continue forever. The point at which the Alaskan pipeline is no longer economically viable is now foreseeable.
To a great extent, this decline is what the Permanent Fund was meant for. The fund and the accompanying dividend are supposed to continue after the oil revenue is gone, but still the gradual disappearance of new oil revenue will change the character of the dividend. Alaska residents have come to expect a trend of gradually increasing dividends as new deposits into the fund outweigh gradually increasing population. Should new deposits disappear, this trend might be replaced by a stagnant or even a gradually declining dividend.
As oil revenues decline, the Alaska state government can expect to need new sources of tax revenue, because most of the state’s regular budget comes from oil revenues. Only one-fourth of the state’s revenues from oil royalties are deposited into the Permanent Fund. If one includes corporate income taxes and property taxes paid by oil companies, actually less than one-eighth of the states revenue from taxation of the oil industry goes to the permanent fund. Most of the state’s general operating budget is indirectly dependent on the oil industry, and so slow decline in that industry will create great pressure to find new revenues.
At that time, the state might try to use the money now supporting the dividend for general state spending. It might look for other sources of revenue such as sales and income taxes. It might look for other resource revenue to support the fund and dividend. Natural gas exploitation is promising in Alaska. Many Alaskans are interested in seeking new oil revenue by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but that strategy could have a devastating environmental impact. The state has many other resources that are not taxed the way oil and natural gas are. These include forestry, fishing, mining, and simple land value.
What the Alaskan government will do when oil revenues begin to diminish is unknown, but it is certain that these are issues that Alaskans will have to deal with in the next 5, 10 or 20 years.
See the following links for recent news on the Alaska Dividend:
Only two months after the Central Executive Committee of the National Union of Namibian Workers' (NUNW) decided to drop out of the Namibian BIG Coalition, the 600 delegates at the annual congress of NUNW elected a new Executive Committee and voted to rejoin the BIG Coalition.
The CEC’s decision to drop out of the BIG Coalition could have been a major political blow for the BIG movement. Instead the announcement was followed almost immediately by an outpouring of support for BIG in public forums in Namibia. Now, with the reversal of the NUNW’s decision, the entire incident has become a BIG victory (so to speak). Instead of marginalizing the issue, the (former) union leadership’s decision demonstrated how broad the support for BIG is in Namibia and how out of touch that group of leaders was. BIG was not the only issue in the decision to change leadership, but it was an important one. According to Herbert Jauch of the Windhoek Observer, “The congress decision on the BIG will not only redirect the NUNW leadership but will also increase the pressure on the Namibian government to seriously consider the introduction of a national BIG as a tool to fight poverty.”
For more information about the NUNW Congress, a see, “The NUNW Congress: A turn-around?”
By Herbert Jauch, published in the Windhoek Observer, September 10-16, 2010. A PDF of this article is online at: http://www.archiv-grundeinkommen.de/namibia/20100910-The-NUNW-Congress-A-turn-around.pdf
Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s ruling Congress Party is pushing to create a constitutional right to food. Her proposal would expand the existing entitlement to make every Indian family eligible for a monthly allotment including sugar, kerosene, and a 77-pound bag of grain. In this form, the proposal would essentially be a small in-kind basic income, similar to the U.S. food stamp program, but more universal. Some observers are even discussing dispensing with the food coupons and simply distributing cash.
The proposal is a response to corruption and inefficiency in India’s current poverty policy, which has left hundreds of millions of people in poverty and even undernourishment. Jim Yardley, of the New York Times writes that the governing Indian National Congress Party is engaged in “an ideological debate over a question that once would have been unthinkable in India: Should the country begin to unshackle the poor from the inefficient, decades-old government food distribution system and try something radical, like simply giving out food coupons, or cash?"
For more information see:
The German Constitutional Court ruled last February that current welfare policies are unconstitutional because they do not meet a standard of “dignified minimum.” The government is now discussing revisions of its welfare policies to meet that standard. The outcome is not likely to be exactly a basic income guarantee, but it does seem that the German Constitutional Court believes that providing an income that allows for a dignified minimum for all citizens is a duty of the state. The movement for basic income in Germany has made great strides recently. More than thirty members of the German Parliament endorse the idea. The Basic Income Earth Network will hold its 2012 conference in Munich.
An article in Deutsche Welle on this issue is online at:
Toru Yamamori, of the Japanese affiliate of the Basic Income Earth Network, presented a recent conference paper on the strange coalition of leftists and rightists who came together in 2009 to make basic income a major item on the Japanese political agenda. A brief discussion of Yamamori’s findings is online at: http://7th.welfareasia.org/2010/08/neoliberals-and-the-radical-left-are-in-the-same-basic-income-boat-is-the-debate-in-japan-an-excepti.html
The full paper, “Neoliberals And The Radical Left Are In The Same Basic Income Boat: Is The Debate In Japan An Exception Or Is There A Universal Rationale Behind It?” is not yet publicly available. For more information, contact the author at: email@example.com>
Since 1998, Canada’s Progressive Economics Forum (PEF) has awarded the “Galbraith Prize in Economics”, in honour of Canadian-born economist John Kenneth Galbraith (who was a strong supporter of basic income). Each year PEF also organizes a “Student Essay Contest”. The Graduate Winner of the 2010 contest is Richard Pereira (Athabasca University) for a paper entitled “Economic security in the twenty-first century – Guaranteed Annual Income: An ecological, democratic, justice and food security imperative”.
For further information: http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2010/06/01/pef-student-essay-contest-2010-winners/
Richard Pereira: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) renewed its commitment to the Basic Income Grant (BIG) in a recently published document. It proposed an inflation-linked BIG and a comprehensive social security system focusing on redistribution, financed by increased corporate taxes. An article on COSATU’s recent release is online at:
This October, ReCivitas will distribute another 30 Brazilian Reals (about US$17.93) to 77 residents of the village of Quantinga Velho in the state of Paulo, Brazil. This payment marks the second anniversary of the ReCivitas project to distribute a basic income to a widening group of residents. The project is funded entirely by private donations.
The payment is not a true basic income because it goes only to 77 people out of Brazil’s population of nearly 200 million, but it is the kind of implementation of the basic income model that is possible with access only to small private donations.
The organizers of ReCivitas see this project as a small way to take action to implement the basic income and to show how it can work. A basic income of less than $18 per month might seem insignificantly small by U.S. standards, but given the level of poverty in Quatinga Velho, this amount is very significant to those who receive it.
If you would like to donate to Recivitas, please contact ReCivitas Instituto pela Revitalizacao da Cidadania <email@example.com>
Joerg Drescher is a life member of BIEN from Germany, currently living in Ukraine, who recently created a series of YouTube videos with lectures and interviews about BIG. He has now teamed up with a producer, Claudia Spiller of SpillerFilm, Berlin, in hopes of creating a more professional documentary film on BIG. They are looking for volunteers to help write a treatment—a kind of abstract containing ideas of what the film will show. The volunteers might also remain involved in the project as it moves forward. Spiller hopes to visit BIG-related projects, such as the pilot project recently concluded in Namibia, the one soon to get underway in India, or the ReCivitas project in Brazil. They hope to document the influence of Basic Income in people’s lives, to find out what problems are solved and what are created.
Drescher’s interview series is online at:
For information about or to volunteer for the documentary, contact:
Joerg Drescher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Basic Income Studies (BIS), the only academic journal focusing on basic income, has recently released two new issues. BIS issues are available for free sampling at http://www.bepress.com/bis. Click the required article and follow the instructions to get free guest access to all BIS publications.
CONTENT OF VOLUME 4, ISSUE 2 (2009)
Special Issue on “The Green Case for Basic Income”, guest-edited by Simon Birnbaum
“Introduction: Basic Income, Sustainability and Post-Productivism”
“Basic Income From an Ecological Perspective”
Jan Otto Andersson
“Basic Income and Sustainable Consumption Strategies”
“Political Ecology: From Autonomous Sphere to Basic Income”
Philippe Van Parijs
“Basic Income, Post-Productivism and Liberalism”
“Mobility, Inclusion and the Green Case for Basic Income”
CONTENT OF VOLUME 5, ISSUE 1 (2010)
“Alternative Basic Income Mechanisms: An Evaluation Exercise With a Microeconometric Model”
Ugo Colombino, Marilena Locatelli, Edlira Narazani and Cathal O'Donoghue
“Why Cash Violates Neutrality”
Joseph Heath and Vida Panitch
“Near-Universal Basic Income”
“The Right to Existence in Developing Countries: Basic Income in East Timor”
David Casassas, Daniel Raventós, and Julie Wark
“Baby Steps: Basic Income and the Need for Incremental Organizational Development”
Jason B. Murphy
Review of “Alanna Hartzok, The Earth Belongs to Everyone”
To submit your next paper to Basic Income Studies, visit http://www.bepress.com/bis, and click "Submit Article". If you like to discuss your contribution informally, contact editors Jurgen De Wispelaere or Karl Widerquist at email@example.com.
BIS is published by The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress), sponsored by Red Renta Básica (RRB) and BIEN, and supported by USBIG.
CLAUDIA & DIRK HAARMANN, “Time to kiss reconciliation goodbye” New Era Windhoek, September 10, 2010
In this article, Claudia and Dirk Haarmann write from personal experiences about recent food riots in Mozambique. They argue that riots like these in southern Africa result from the failure of the post-Apartheid reconciliation process to bring relief from abject poverty to the masses of people in the region. They argue that reconciliation cannot succeed without such relief and that the basic income guarantee can be an important tool to bring that relief. According to the authors, efforts to move in that direction are blocked by an ideology that sees job-based and pro-market reforms as they only viable approach. Southern African governments are still clinging to this ideology even after years of its failure to relieve poverty.
Claudia and Dirk Haarmann are both pastors and both hold PhDs in Social Development. They are the Directors of the Theological Institute for Advocacy and Research in Africa (TARA). Their article can be found online at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201009100566.html.
CITIZEN’S INCOME TRUST (2010), The Citizen’s Income Newsletter, Issue 2, 2010.
The Citizen’s Income Trust is the UK counter-part of USBIG. It publishes two to three newsletters per year. The most recent issue of the Citizen’s Income Newsletter contains: editorials on the ‘Big Society’ and on universal provision, a research note on a possible Citizen’s Income scheme’s effects on labour market incentives, an obituary for Charlotte Markson, news and conference reports, book reviews, and a Viewpoint by Bill Jordan.
The newsletter is online at: http://www.citizensincome.org/
BRIGID REYNOLDS, SEAN HEALY, MICHEAL COLLINS (editors), 2010. The Future of the Welfare State. Dublin: Social Justice Ireland. September 2010. I.S.B.N. No: 978 1 907501 03 6; 136 pages
This book contains four chapters: “The future of the welfare state: An overview,” by Tony Fahey; “The welfare state across selected OECD countries: How much does it really cost and how good is it in reducing poverty?” by Willem Adema; “Shaping public policy: Is there a place for values-led debate and discourse in the public sphere?” by Daniel O’Connell; and “Shaping the future of the welfare state: What are the challenges and how might they be addressed?” by Sean Healy and Brigid Reynolds. It discusses moving Ireland’s welfare state toward a basic income model. The entire book can be downloaded as a PDF online at:
SEAN HEALY & REYNOLDS, BRIGID (eds.) (2010), ‘Building a Fairer Tax System!: The Working Poor and the Cost of Refundable Tax Credits’, Dublin: Social Justice Ireland, Policy Research Series, July 2010, 74pp.
Making tax credits refundable would benefit 113,000 low-income individuals in an efficient and cost-effective manner according to a new study published by Social Justice Ireland. When children and other adults in the household are taken into account the total number of beneficiaries would be 240,000. The cost of making this change would be €140m which is in stark contrast to the estimate provided by the Department of Finance to the Oireachtas Committee on Social and Family Affairs which claimed the cost would be €3,000m (i.e. €3bn). According to the authors the proposal to make tax credits refundable would make Ireland’s tax system fairer, address part of the working poor problem and improve the living standards of a substantial number of people in Ireland. It would also mean that Ireland had the structure to introduce a full basic income system if it wished to do so.
Mr David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions responded to the study at its launch. He welcomed it as an excellent study and proposed it should be adopted by the Government in its Budget to be announced in December 2010.
PDF available online: http://www.socialjustice.ie/content/cost-making-tax-credits-refundable-would-be-less-5-department-finance%E2%80%99s-estimate
EDWARD LEWIS AND STUART WHITE, “Political Philosophy and the Left (Parts 1 & 2).” New Left Project and basic income
Part 1 first published: July 28, 2010
Part 2 first published: August 14, 2010
These articles are a two-part interview of Stuart White by Edward Lewis about the philosophical foundations of the left and their implications for social structure. The first part focuses on the central values of equality and freedom as they relate to left-wing political philosophy. The second part discusses how to institutionalize the values of the left, focusing in particular on the idea of an unconditional basic income. Stuart White is a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a member of Demos’s advisory council. He writes about political philosophy and its application, and is the author of Equality and The Civic Minimum.
The two articles can be found online at:
An additional discussion of this interview is online on the Crooked timber blog:
EDWARD LEWIS AND JOHN BAKER
Investigating Equality (Parts 1 & 2)
Part 1 first published: September 17, 2010
Part 2 first published: September 23, 2010
This is a two-part interview of John Baker by Edward Lewis. The first part of the interview focuses on general and theoretical considerations regarding equality. The second part focuses on how to realize egalitarian aspirations. One strategy Baker discusses is basic income. John Baker is Associate Professor of Equality Studies at University College Dublin, and a member of the UCD Equality Studies Centre and the School of Social Justice.
Part 1 is online at: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/investigating_equality/
Part 2 is online at: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/investigating_equality_-_part_2/
C. L’HIRONDELLE, “7 Reasons Obama should support a Guaranteed Livable Income,” Victoria, British Columbia: Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE).
In this online article C. L’Hirondelle puts forward the following reasons why Obama should support a Guaranteed Livable Income: 1) Relying on job creation might involve the creation of make-work jobs. 2) We need to redefine work and wealth or face a worsening toll on human health and the environment. 3) The idea of the work ethic is actually anchored to 500-year-old John Calvin. 4) We need to end the obsession with jobs for jobs sake. 5) The Leisure Class does not worry about being called lazy. 6) The jobs mythology harms human health, happiness, and the quality of our environment. 7) Obama needs to get out of the Box-Echo Chamber.
The article is online at:
RICHARD HENLEY DAVIS, “Land Value Tax questions tackled by economist Mark Wadsworth” The Economists Voice, October 4th, 2010
In this article, journalist Richard Henley Davis interviews economist Mark Wadsworth about his views of Land Value Taxation. Wadsworth discusses using some of the revenue for Land Value Taxation for a Citizens Dividend (a basic income). The article is online at:
THE ECONOMIST, “Brazil's Bolsa Família, How to get children out of jobs and into school: The limits of Brazil’s much admired and emulated anti-poverty programme”
July 29th, 2010
This is an in-depth article on Brazil's Bolsa Família, which was endorsed by the Brazilian government as the first step in phasing-in a basic income guarantee. It’s online at: http://www.economist.com/node/16690887
DAVE ROSE AND CHARLES WOHLFORTH. Saving for the Future: My Life and the Alaska Permanent Fund, Fairbanks: Epicenter Press. 2008
According to one of the authors, the book is really two books. Wohlforth said, "The first half is really for anybody - it's a slice of life … The second half is getting much more into the permanent fund and public policy and finance.” Wohlforth said the second half of the book is the first time he knows of that a complete history of the Permanent Fund has been written.
Information about the book is online at:
A review on the book by Katie Spielberger for Juneau’s Capital City weekly is online at:
MARTIN RAVALLION, “Do Poorer Countries Have Less Capacity for Redistribution?” The World Bank, Development Research Group, Policy Research Working Paper 5046. September 2009
ABSTRACT: Development aid and policy discussions often assume that poorer countries have less internal capacity for redistribution in favor of their poorest citizens. The assumption is tested using data for 90 developing countries. The capacity for redistribution is measured by the marginal tax rate on those who are not poor by rich-country standards that is needed to cover the poverty gap or to provide a poverty-level of basic income, judged by developing-country standards. For most (but not all) countries with annual consumption per capita under $2,000 (at 2005 purchasing power parity) the required tax burdens are found to be prohibitive—often calling for marginal tax rates of 100 percent or more. By contrast, the required tax rates are quite low (1 percent on average) among all countries with consumption per capita over $4,000, as well as some poorer countries. Most countries fall into one of two groups: those with little or no realistic prospect of addressing extreme poverty through redistribution from the “rich” and those that would appear to have ample scope for such redistribution. Economic growth tends to move countries from the first group to the second. Thus the appropriate balance between growth and redistribution strategies can be seen to depend on the level economic development.
The paper is online at: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2009/09/09/000158349_20090909133807/Rendered/PDF/WPS5046.pdf
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS: Second Ibero-American Summit on Basic Income
Mexico City, Mexico, November 25-26, 2010
Basic Income-Mexico (BI-Mexico), the Mexican affiliate of the Basic Income Earth Network, will organize the Second Ibero-American Summit on Basic Income in Mexico City on the 25th and 26th of November, 2010. The event will take place in the headquarters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Workers Union, STUNAM (Av. Universidad 779, Col. Del Valle, Delegación Benito Juárez)
This summit is proposed as a discussion space for multiple initiatives on the subject to meet, for the discussion and the exchange of ideas to become stronger, to support the creation of networks and to consolidate the perspective of the Ibero-American proposal. The general objective is to exchange experiences on the theoretical foundations and the organizational and political processes used to spread and drive BI, as well as proposals for its implementation in Ibero-America.
Any and all interested in participating in this summit are called to register their talks with a maximum length of 15 pages with 1.5 spacing until October the 31st 2010 at email@example.com working along the following thematic guidelines:
• BI: fights poverty and redistributes wealth
• BI: philosophical foundations
• BI: for political autonomy and the rooting of democracy
• BI: as the basis for social and gender equity
• BI: strategic element of social struggles.
• BI: strategies for judicial recognition.
• BI: viability and implementation proposals.
• BI: transformation of social policies.
The authors of talks that are approved by the organizing committee of the II Summit will be notified, and they will have to give them in discussion round tables in a maximum time of 10 minutes. Afterwards a conference proceedings containing the given talks and the recounting of the debates will be published.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKSHOP ON ALASKA’S PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND
The University of Alaska-Anchorage, Friday, April 22, 2011.
Several scholars, journalists and public policy experts will gather at the University Alaska-Anchorage to discuss the future of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend and whether it provides a model worthy of imitation in other places. Participants include Scott Goldsmith, of the University of Alaska; Michael Howard, of the University of Maine; Karl Widerquist, of Georgetown University-Qatar; Gary Flomenhoff, of the University of Vermont; Gregg Erickson, of Erickson & Associates and of the Alaska Budget Report; Angela Cummine, of Oxford University; Cliff Groh, principal legislative staff member on the legislation that created the Permanent Fund Dividend and author of The Permanent Fund Dividend Story; Charles Wohlforth, author of the Fate of Nature and the Whale and the Supercomputer. For more information about the Workshop, contact Scott Goldsmith (email@example.com) or Karl Widerquist (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The website, “Free Money!” pitches an idea very much like a basic income guarantee. The site contains explanations, justifications, a blog, and other info. It is online at: http://www.freemoneyforall.org/. The site is run by Carl Milsted Jr. <email@example.com>
TWO YOUTUBE-VIDEOS ABOUT THE ALASKA DIVIDEND
are online at the following links:
Jay Hammond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7rCbuIoGKM
Niilo Koponen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA_CSN2YMpM
For links to dozens of BIG websites around the world, go to
http://www.usbig.net/links.html. These links are to any website with
information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or
The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by Philippe Van Parijs, James P. Mulvale, Claudia and Dirk Haarmann.
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a generic name for any proposal to create a minimum income level, below which no citizen's income can fall. Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at: http://www.usbig.net.
You may copy and circulate articles from this newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to http://www.usbig.net. If you know any BIG news; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, editor